Your question: Why is my birth control giving me anxiety?

My reply:

Hi, I hope this message finds you well. My name is Cesar Guedez, a psychologist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Birth control methods, also known as hormonal contraceptive methods, are used around the world primarily to prevent pregnancy and treat Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. They are a necessity for millions of women around the world, so it is natural to wonder if they can cause problems such as anxiety. Our body reacts in complex ways to different types of medications.

Contraceptive methods contain chemicals that can affect the neurotransmitters in your brain, causing emotional disturbances. Research has found that hormonal contraception can affect women’s emotions, making them more prone to anxiety and depression.

This is a problem that is rarely talked about. If you are going through this situation, I would like to tell you that it can get better. Even if you feel overwhelmed right now, there are ways to prevent birth control methods from causing you anxiety.

Each person is different, therefore, not all of us will have the same effect of a specific medication. Each contraceptive has its own chemical composition and brings specific side effects.

Through understanding how birth control methods work, understanding the relationship they have with your anxiety and mental health, as well as applying anxiety regulation techniques and consulting with professionals such as psychologists and endocrinologists, your quality of life can improve.

Why do birth control methods cause you anxiety?

Research related to the psychological effects caused by contraceptive methods is limited. However, existing research establishes a correlation between symptoms similar to those of an anxious episode and the use of some hormonal contraceptives (2).

Some of the characteristic symptoms are: nausea, tachycardia, headaches, stomach pain, loss of appetite, insomnia, loss of sexual desire, persistent worry for no apparent reason, sudden fear or sadness, sweating and dizziness. Birth control pills that have estrogen and progesterone composition are the main cause of anxiety symptoms in women related to the use of birth control methods (3).

This happens because when your pills enter your body they cause an imbalance in your regular hormone levels, which can make your brain feel that you are in a state of alertness, making you react as if you are experiencing an anxiety attack.

It turns out to be a problem that this information is not disseminated often enough, causing bewilderment in people who take birth control pills and experience an emotional out of control in their body that they can’t explain.

On the other hand, the use of non-oral contraceptive methods can cause anxiety for other reasons. Methods such as Implanon, IUDs and vaginal rings can make you anxious because of the fear and worry associated with them not working. Many women worry that birth control methods will fail, leading to an unwanted pregnancy and all the complications that come with it.

What can you do?

Managing anxiety related to contraceptive use can be complicated. Hormonal processes destabilize your mood and can make you feel that you have no control over your own emotions. It is essential that you see a professional about your unsatisfactory experience with contraceptive methods.

Doctors will be able to give you alternatives, such as changing your contraceptive method or modifying its chemical composition so that it does not alter your hormonal levels, thus avoiding anxiety. There are other techniques you can use to work on lowering your overall anxiety levels.

Breathing and relaxation

When you experience episodes of anxiety, you feel as if your whole body is collapsing. Breathing and relaxation is key to decreasing bothersome symptoms of anxiety and staying calm in panic situations. Close your eyes and inhale gently for 4 seconds, then exhale for another 4 seconds. Rest one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. You can do this exercise sitting or lying down, for 5 to 20 minutes a day. This will allow you to decrease the general tension and worry associated with anxiety.

Change birth control methods

You may need to change your birth control method if the one you are currently using continues to affect your hormone levels, thus triggering the feeling of anxiety. This should be done with the help and supervision of a medical professional, who can change your birth control pills to, for example, an IUD.

Keep an emotional diary

Recording your emotions and negative thoughts in a journal is quite useful, because it allows you to express your concerns in a private space and because it will help you identify the situations and people that tend to trigger your anxiety. Every time you experience an anxious episode, write in your diary everything related to it: what was happening at the time, where you were, who you were with and what you felt.

Take care of your sleep and nutrition

Sleep and nutrition are two of the main pillars of any person’s health. It is possible that contraceptive methods cause an imbalance in your sleeping and eating patterns, which ends up aggravating your anxiety. Therefore, you need to establish sleeping and eating routines, modifying unhealthy habits and incorporating physical exercise, albeit gradually, into your life.

In my experience…

Feeling anxious about the use of contraceptives is completely normal, especially hormonal contraceptive methods. They are necessary, but they can cause annoying side effects that are beyond your control. There is a solution for this, and by consulting with health professionals you will be able to make changes that will allow you to continue using the contraceptive methods you need, avoiding the anxious symptomatology.

Remember that you have the ability to improve your psychological state, even if during moments of anxiety or depression you feel hopeless. You can always make small changes that will pay off in the long run. The fact that you are contacting me to seek professional attention in psychological counseling is already a step, and I recognize and applaud you for that. You are already doing something and wanting to change always leads you in the right direction

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